A devastating future was just around the corner. The calm atmosphere had morphed into one engulfed with chaos and destruction. With no end in sight, my parents decided to pack-up and leave the civil war torn country of El Salvador in the 80’s. Even with empty pockets, they made sure I had everything I needed to be successful.
After high school, I transferred to a small Christian school and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies. I loved the missionary work I did during college because I got a chance to work in countries like Israel, Hungary, Mexico and Chile. Life was moving fast and I got engaged right in the middle of the recession. I was forced to find a job quickly and ended up at Verizon as a Field Tech. I only planned to be at Verizon for 6 months but stayed for 7 years! Thinking back now, I was very comfortable financially and avoided looking for another job because I didn’t want to shake-up my life. However, working 60-70 hours a week left no time for me to enjoy my personal life. I was missing so many things at home like seeing my kids grow up and enjoying time with my wife. I remember my wife telling me that she felt like she was a single mom. The epiphany that dealt the last blow was realizing that my parents were 28 when they left El Salvador. They dreamed of me having the opportunity to be anything and have everything I wanted, yet, here I was at 28, miserable and scared to do anything that affected my cushiony life. Work was extremely taxing on my body and I knew I couldn’t work at the pace I was for the rest of my life.
My friends suggested looking into networking and trying to pass the CCNA. I took some Cisco classes to help me out, but I wasn’t understanding anything. Fortunately for me, I found Zero to Engineer. Working through the Zero to Engineer program was the first time I felt like I understood what was being taught and actually enjoyed it too.
I’ll never forget what Terry told me about how prepared I should be for interviews, “You have to be able to articulate things, make them tell you to stop”. Zero to Engineer gave me the knowledge I needed to think like a troubleshooter and helped me land a network tech role at Navy Federal. Professionally I’m constantly improving and growing and currently working towards a role in cyber security. On a personal level, giving back is my passion and I’m engaged in many activities to influence my community to have a larger presence in the networking industry. My parents took a leap of faith for my future and they couldn’t be happier with what I’ve done with the opportunity they gave me.
UPDATE: Jonathan Flores has been employed with Navy Federal Credit Union ever since and in June of 2019 was promoted to a position as Cyber Security Engineer.
It’s another shift on the night crew. The last time they saw the sun, it was setting; the next time will be when it’s rising. Their muscles complain as they do their work, the strain across their shoulders is a familiar companion.
They’ve gotten accustomed to this schedule. Heavy lifting, operating machinery, the cold echo of the stone floors, the fluorescent lighting. A nocturnal life. When was the last time they kissed their partner goodbye over breakfast?
A lifestyle and taxing job on the body can only sustain so long. We can hear your inner thoughts begging for something new. But we get it–career changes can be daunting! It’s hard to figure out where to turn, where to look for an opportunity that will challenge you in new ways and provide a more sustainable future.
I.T. is a field that is always changing and adapting, and I like to think a little of that rubs off on those who take on the trade.
Adaptability will take you far. Let’s take a look at 6 game-changers who decided it was time to end their warehouse careers and learn how to break into I.T.
From a Chemical Operator constantly exposed to danger to an Operations Engineer at Google
Keron Taylor was working as a Chemicals Operator at BASF, one of the world’s largest chemical companies. His job included driving forklifts, unloading tankers, and running multiple chemical reactions, which regularly exposed him to danger. When Keron cracked his wrist in a non-work-related accident, it set him on a new path.
He was scrolling across Facebook, was caught by Terry’s webinar, and enrolled in the Zero to Engineer program right there. By Module 4, he gained the confidence to apply for entry-level I.T. jobs and landed a contract position with Modis as an Operations Engineer at Google. What he learned in Zero To Engineer was right at the front of his mind though all his interviews.
“My job duties went from putting my body in harm’s way to adding devices onto networks and porting fiber into racks. My routine is incredibly flexible now, and I’m constantly collaborating and working with employees across various teams.”
From Forklift Operator to Junior Network Administrator in 16 months
Daniel Adams came from a position as a forklift operator for a chain manufacturing company. About a year and a half into his warehouse career, he was thinking about a change. “This isn’t what I want to do with the rest of my life.”
After deciding to get back into I.T. (he had studied it in high school), he came across a CompTIA Network+ ad online from NexGenT. A good deal for a new world of opportunity. After flying through the course, he knew he wanted to join the ZTE program and lean into his passion.
NexGenT is designed to get you I.T. experience without a degree.
“You can go into this having no experience whatsoever, and they [Zero to Engineer] lay it out so perfectly for you, it’s easy to understand.”
He was able to make the switch and land his first I.T. role in under 3 months!
At $17.50 an hour to start, (an improvement from his warehouse wages) Daniel was set to grow in his first role at Rutter’s as an IT Support Technician, and work his way up doing what he loves. Below is our interview with him after his first day on the job (about one year ago). Since the interview, Daniel has been promoted to Junior Network Administrator with Rutter’s Dairy Farms!
From grueling night shifts to System Administrator – Goodbye, on-the-job injuries!
Logan Brindley was tired of lifting 5-gallon buckets of chains every day and working late nights away from home. Uneven sleeping schedules, physically harmful work—the whole nine yards.
He knew it was time for a change. He had sustained an on-the-job injury that accumulated into an apple-sized hematoma on his knee, leaving him out of work for a month.
Logan’s wife stumbled upon a way for him to get I.T. training and experience without a degree: NexGenT!
Logan had been making $19 an hour, but after an engaging interview process with Efusion Programming (in which he was able to show off what he learned from his online IT training), Logan would be accepting an offer for $21 an hour as a System Administrator.
From Injured Assembly Technician to Inventory Technician at Microsoft
Jason Benson is currently an Inventory Technician at Microsoft. It was a challenging road to get there. After suffering a back injury–and reinjuring himself multiple times–as an assembly technician, he knew it was time to move on to greener pastures.
Jason was introduced to NexGenT and decided to take the leap an sign up – after all, his body was in no condition to continue the taxing warehouse work he had been doing. This newly opened door and job position created a better environment for supporting his wife and children. With a special needs child, his health and flexible schedule were becoming more important as he wanted to be present in the raising of his kids.
NexGenT has helped him design solid career goals that “brighten his quality of life.”
From a disheartened warehouse worker to a Senior Network Engineer making 6 figures
When Kwame Ohemeng landed in the United States from Ghana, he expected to pick up his technology career right where he left off. But it wasn’t as simple as he thought it would be. In the U.S., companies required certifications to validate a person’s knowledge.
Even with all his experience, he ended up working in a warehouse for a company that manufactured air conditioners.
While he was searching for resources online, he came across one of the Zero to Engineer ads. The program was offering mentorship from world-class I.T. industry professionals.
Once he completed the Zero to Engineer program and had his certifications, he was better equipped at selling himself during job interviews.
After being deemed overqualified for the first position he interviewed for ($70,000 a year salary), he landed a job at PCM, a company with over 20,000 employees. Kwame stayed with PCM for 3 years before making the move to another company. He became the go-to person in the IT department—and even a valued mentor in the NexGenT advisor network.
From hauling chains at a lumber mill to Network Technician
Before discovering the CompTIA Network+, Jake Stephens was working in a lumber mill hauling green chain with pieces of lumber that were up to 300 pounds. The Network+ course confirmed he wanted to take his training further and he joined the Zero To Engineer program.
Jake started at $13 an hour, but after just 31-days, once he had gotten his CCNA and proven his skillset without having any previous I.T. experience, he asked for $18 an hour and was offered $20 an hour instead (Moral of the story: never be afraid to ask!)
Jake is no longer required to put a strain on his body to make ends meet. He uses what he learned in the Zero to Engineer program as the fundamentals in his work.
By making this career switch, Jake feels more secure in what he’s doing—no more temp jobs— and has confidence in his children’s futures and the opportunities he can provide for them, and himself.
What can we learn from these 6 move makers?
Each of these stories included either a major life event or injury striking before they finally made a career change. But what we can all learn from these hard workers, is you don’t have to wait to go after a dream. You don’t have to put it off until you have no other choice. You can make that choice right away. Your success is waiting for you to decide you are ready to go all in and change your career. And we know the snowball affect: change your career, change your happiness, your income, your life. If these students of Zero To Engineer were able to do it, so can you.
If you’re ready to make a change, reframe your life, start a new career, or dare to strive for security and fulfillment, NexGenT is here to help make that happen.
Makeia Jackson was looking for the next step in her life. As a mom and wife, she knew she would need something flexible and highly effective to bring her to the next level.
Before Makeia discovered NexGenT, she was a stay at home mom with a technical degree that wasn’t getting her anywhere. “I had gone to a technical college, applied for jobs, and nothing was happening.” She had given up and resolved to stay as she was. For four years, she shoved her ambitions aside.
“I psyched myself out. I told myself I’d just wait until my kids are older and apply for a job then.”
She tried to ignore that restless feeling of wanting to put herself back in the game.
She needed a way to make her resume stand out among the other stay at home moms looking for career opportunities. She needed an edge.
Makeia came across a couple ads and articles from NexGenT that popped up on her Facebook and LinkedIn feeds and was intrigued. She dove deeper into learning about what NGT was offering. “I googled NexGenT and went to the Facebook page, and thought: Okay, I’m going to see what they’re talking about.”
After attending one of Terry’s webinars, she was ready to give it a shot. “I thought, okay, this is going to be it.” Makeia, on how she felt after making her choice. She had found her edge.
From “Going to see what they’re about,” to “This is going to be it!” just like that.
That’s how quickly a life can change.
Landing The Job
Makeia began her training and worked diligently. A few months in, the inspiration that came from speaking with Terry and Jacob led her to take a chance and apply for a cyber technician position she found online.
“I went in, and they asked me what I knew, so I just told them what I was learning at NexGenT.”
“When I decided to go through NexGenT, the way they took us through each phase and made sure we understood, was great. Having the videos helped because I could always go back and listen again.”
One of the beauties of NexGenT is the flexibility that helps each learning style thrive. You learn on your time, at your pace, at your level. “My mom always told me that if you can’t teach it, you don’t know it. With NexGenT, I’m able to explain everything!”
Makeia got a phone call with a job offer on the same day of her interview.
The confidence she earned in NexGenT encouraged her to nail her interview and land a position as a Cyber Security Technician with EDTS Cyber, now know as Corsica Technologies.
Makeia’s ultimate goal is to be a Network Security Engineer, and because of her determination and quick thinking, paired with our course, she has the confidence and tools in her belt to do it.
Makeia is grateful to have network experience going into her new position. “The training included Wireshark and that is something I now use every day. We’re always reading packets and reading the network to determine if it’s a brute attack or user error.”
“Seeing Terry and Jacob, I just see honesty and the passion of them trying to help other people without having to spend so much money, without putting themselves into debt with college degrees.”
Something shifted in Makeia while she was attending our webinar that day.
She felt that they saw potential in her without even having a one on one conversation. Seeing their motivation and fire for empowering people instilled a sense of inspiration in her that fueled her to take the chance, and change her life.
“NexGenT helped me get my passion back, to come up with a solid and sound vision, and to know that I’m going to have to put in the work and not to expect something to come to me easily. It helped me remember not to give up on myself and to keep learning every day.”
A quick tip from Makeian Jackson:
Invest in yourself! You don’t want to put so much effort into putting out your funds without getting a return on your investment. Be wise with your investments and make sure it’s coming back to you in positive ways!
“Thanks to NexGenT, I have leveled up, and I have the confidence I need to be anything that I want to be as a network security engineer.”
That’s the kind of excitement and clarity that NexGenT strives to help instill; to help people see a future for themselves.
Are you ready to level up? I heard a YES. Click here to learn more about our programs and apply now!
A zoom interview with Zero To Engineer Alumni, Logan Brindley
Logan Brindley was tired of lifting 5-gallon buckets of chains every day and working late nights away from home. Uneven sleeping schedules, physically harmful work: missing the morning moments with family that propel us through the day.
Logan knew it was time for a change. The only question was how and when. He had sustained an on the job injury that accumulated into an apple-sized hematoma on his knee, leaving him out of work for a month. His warehouse employer did not acknowledge his ailment as qualifying for workers’ compensation. He was on his own, and that was when he knew for sure that it was time to move on. “That was the point I was like, I’m getting this done, I’m digging in, and I’m getting a new job.”
When Logan discovered NexGenT, he knew it was his chance to get away from forklifts, knee injuries, and graveyard shifts. His wife had seen an ad on Facebook and was excited to show him the option.
“It looked like fun!” Logan, on his initial take on NGT. Enjoyment is an important part of work. If you can find the fun in what you do, it makes all the difference. Logan took to the program like a fish to water.
He didn’t wait around for his luck to change: he took action. Logan went full throttle into NGT for his entire month of recovery time. He was ready to break into the world of information technology.
A Quick Tip From Logan
Do the labs in the program! Before you think of taking any of the tests, do the labs. I thought I could skip over them and power through the lessons but soon realized I couldn’t. Absolutely necessary.
How did you land the position without prior experience?
Logan was browsing online for available opportunities. Among these, he found an open position with Efusion programming, he updated his entire resume to best match the programming position and applied with high hopes.
He knew he wasn’t fully qualified for the programming role but attempted anyway and managed to land an interview. In his interview, Logan mentioned his NexGenT training and the IT background he had been developing. He spoke with confidence on the topics that he had a full understanding of.
To his surprise, the manager instead acknowledged Logan for fitting perfectly into a systems administration role. Unfortunately, that position at the company had been filled only a few days prior.
Logan on how his conversation with the manager went: “He said, ‘I wish I had found you before this because I would have hired you [for the administration] role on the spot!'” The representative he spoke with was so impressed with Logan’s skill set that he held on to his resume.
Three weeks later, Logan got a call. It was Efusion, and the previous hire hadn’t worked out. “He said he wanted me to come in and interview for the position.” Logan was more than willing to do so.
One engaging interview process later, and they called with the offer. Logan had been making $19 an hour at his warehouse job, and Efusion was discussing keeping that wage for him. However, they kindly offered to bump his starting wage to $21 an hour instead.
Surprised and excited, Logan said he would call back after discussing it with his wife. “What?” she had said, blown away as he explained the offer to her. “Why didn’t you say you would take the job on the spot!” It was a happy time in the Brindley house.
With that settled, Logan called back and took the job as Systems Administrator at Efusion programming.
How has this career change shifted your life?
Logan is enjoying taking general phone calls and supporting people with common tech issues. No more demanding physical labor, no more heavy buckets of chains. Logan is confident that he’ll move up in his IT career as he learns new programs and expands his skill set within his current company.
“Right now, I’m being paid to learn, which is super nice.”
This change has also improved his home life, “To have a normal sleep schedule again is a bit of a change.” Logan laughs, “I get to see my kids before I leave in the morning! I get to say goodbye to my wife.”
If you’ve been feeling that pressure, that claustrophobic stress of being stuck on a path you don’t want to be on: remember, you have the power to choose a deviation.
NexGenT is here for the ones who are looking for a change. The ones who are eager to learn. The ones like Logan, the ones like you.
“This isn’t just a job I’ve been able to find. It’s something that I’m looking to turn into a career.”
His dedication to crushing the Zero to Engineer course is paying off in the form of stability, hope, and a fulfilling work-life.
“Because of NGT, I’ve not only been able to find a job I love, but I’m able to chart a course for my life going forward.” Logan, on how going through NexGenT supported his success.
A zoom interview with Zero To Engineer Alumni, Chris Mickinnis
Chris Mickinnis is a family man whose top priority is providing for his loved ones. For Chris, that meant staying in his predictable, safe, yet unrewarding job doing miscellaneous IT work. A “Jack of all trades” position that yielded uncertainties for the future.
What if he was injured? What if he had to find another job? Chris would be hard-pressed to find another sustainable situation that would provide the same security for his family.
Chris had worked in a call center with customer support and had no additional certifications. Though he knew that he needed to gain some longevity within his career, he didn’t know where to turn or how to take that step.
After over 10 years, he was resigned to that cycle. He had begun to believe he was stuck. He felt frozen in time.
And then a chain of persistent Zero to Engineer outreach emails snagged his attention.
He chose to answer the call of change. After sitting in on one of our seminars, he “pulled out the credit card” And was ready to go. The light at the end of the tunnel, the flag of possibility in the fog. He took hold of the hope and opportunity that NexGenT provides, and he flew to heights he thought he had missed the chance to reach.
When asked about his level of motivation and excitement through the program after his decision to enroll, Chris grinned, “…I could see why they were going over a lot of what they were, and it was a great refresher. I was excited, and that was sustained all through the network plus videos.”
His motivation persisted enough for him to branch out into other platforms, but he “keeps coming back to NexGenT’s material.”
Quick Tip from Chris:
Don’t burn yourself out! It can be tempting to stretch yourself to 8-10-hour days with the material, but remember to set a pace for yourself that is sustainable and effective in the long term. That can look different for everyone, as long as it’s helping you and not hurting you.
When you change course like Chris did, there’s going to be a time of adjustment as there is with any new development in life.
How did you land the job?
Chris met his current manager at Kirby Corp through running cables, and they struck up a conversation around future plans. He was impressed by Chris’s motivation and determination with NexGenT, and their conversation put Chris on his radar.
A few months of follow-up later, Chris got the call: There was a spot on the team at Kirby Corp, and they wanted Chris. They loved his enthusiasm for solving problems, and they recognized the strong signal that is sent when someone enrolls in a course like NexGenT.
“Back then I was running around all day finding cables and printers. Now, all my work is done on the computer, troubleshooting and making sure everything’s running as it should.” He’s building an extensive database for the entire company, which isn’t something they’ve had before at Kirby Corporation.
He admits, it can still be overwhelming. But Chris is quick to smile and knows that it’s worth the challenge.
When he initially explained what he was doing with NexGenT, people were skeptical about the merits. Chris dealt with all the familiar questions that come out when anyone does anything different than the norm: “What does that mean?” “What does that get you?” “What will you be certified in?”
Chris stuck to his plan despite the questioning. He knew that this was the choice he needed to make. He needed to become a Full Stack Network Engineer, and he went at it with full force.
Chris’s present reality was once a distant dream. He took the plunge and changed the course of his career, and he’s still the family man who can provide. “I can do my work anywhere. Home, the car, and I’m making a comfortable income.”
The rise of alternative education is creating empowered and driven workers, and Chris is glad to be one of them.
How does it feel?
“I feel proud to say that I’m a Network Engineer. I get a little grin every time I say it.” Chris, on his new title. We love to hear that from our students–see that light in their eyes.
When people think of changing their lives, they often let fear or familiarity hold them in place.
Chris is proof that stability does not have to be sacrificed when changing paths. You can have a fulfilling career and still hold a roof over your family’s head.
“I’m very grateful for all the dominos that had to fall into place for this to happen.” Chris, on his current status.
It’s not always clear where to turn, what decisions to make when it comes to building a career you love and are proud of. But it can be done, and with NexGenT, you can earn that state of pride and renewed enthusiasm for the work you do that Chris has.
You have the power to change your path, and NexGenT can help you get there!
Growing up, I had no IT education at all, but I did have some friends that were computer enthusiasts that showed me some things, and that’s what initially got me interested in IT in the first place. They could put together computers and fix so many problems, and even though we were just kids in middle school, they could already do all these cool things, and I couldn’t and want to be able to.
This got me interested, but I actually didn’t take any steps towards it until just shy of a year ago. I was in the Marine Core, but was on a Navy ship for that deployment, and have been in the Marine Core for coming up 5 years now, and my contract is just ending now. I read a very old book, and was just going on my second deployment and figured that I could pick up a bunch of ebooks and learn something when I had downtime on the ship, and downloaded ‘Introduction to Networking, how the internet works’ by Charles R Severance, and it talks about old school thick-net, thin-net stuff and token ring and found it cool, now I actually know how data goes from your screen and goes across the world to someone else’s computer. I started reading more into it and got genuinely interested, and I decided when I got back from deployment, that I would look into pursuing an education.
I started doing college online at American Intercontinental University to get a Degree in a Bachelors in Science and Information Technology with the specialization in Networking, and got in, which was surprising because when I was in high school, I didn’t do very good and barely got enough credits to graduate. Their online program was pretty good and very easy, with 6 classes, two of them being IT related, and I had got a 4.0 GPA for the first time in my life, and nailed all those classes with straight As. I didn’t get too far because I found NexGenT and figured it was probably going to teach me a lot more than what college would; which turned out to be absolutely true.
I was just scrolling down through Facebook and saw an advert from NexGenT and it said Network+ course only $10, checked it out and did almost all of it. I was looking into what else NexGenT offered, and they had all these success stories about people that had either never went to college and did the program and ended up being successful. Some of them did go to college and racked up a lot of debt and went through the program and claimed that they learned more than they ever learned in college. It’s like they get down to the stuff that you will actually be doing, and that’s the juicy stuff that I want to learn.
Even through the Marine Corps, learning my job, they put you through schools to learn how to do it, but realistically you don’t really learn it until you are actually get there, and it’s almost a waste of time. When I started reading those stories, I was like you know what, maybe this is something. Looking forward, this can maybe teach me something very practical, and maybe I will be able to get a job out of it way sooner and be able to actually start my career, and since I was in the military, I was able to get half off, and decided to give it a shot, and it was definitely worth it as I landed a job while only in phase 2 of the program.
My job position is called Netops Lead Mid, and it is at a contracting company called Avening Tech, and they work under the main contractor Perspecta, which is the leading contract company that serves as the IT for the Marine Corps, and NexGenT is the major factor that got me this position.
It was very circumstantial how I was able to land a job. The western regional manager for Perspecta happened to be in the second day I was shadowing employees there, and I had just helped their team fix a network issue, and they saw that I actually knew some of the command line and knew what to look for. And, there were different questions that we were asking each other, and they seemed to get the understanding that I had a general idea of what was going on and that I knew what I was doing. The supervisors here had referred me to this regional manager since he was there that day, so he pulled me aside and offered me a job. But that wouldn’t have happened had I not got this knowledge from NexGenT. I could have tried to do it without NexGenT, but you can’t trust the information online, and you have to look at multiple places to get all of the information. With NexGenT, they have everything there and easy to follow, and knew exactly how to teach it from zero to engineer level.
I would like to be a senior network engineer and move up and I am looking to do ICND2 and then CCNP right after, and would definitely recommend the Full Stack Program. The group coaching makes all the difference, and really helps you to understand things by asking questions and get fast responses from subject matter experts, and it’s dummy proof.